In the world of specialty coffees, the individual farmer is typically highlighted. It is important to remember, however, that for smallholder farmers, growing coffee is almost always a family effort. This principle is exemplified in this small, speciality lot. Traditionally, this lot has been named after, Fransico Cuchimba, father to the family and Finca El Cedro’s owner. Although Fransico’s son had already taken over management of the farm, Don Francisco sadly passed away earlier this year (2021) leaving El Cedro to his family. Truly, the credit belongs not only to Francisco but also to his entire family, who have been growing coffee in their small farm, El Cedro, in Inzá, Cauca for over 40 years.
After travelling an hour by a mule track from the town of San Antonio, crossing several boggy and grassy paddocks, one reaches the Cuchimba family home, with a smoky chimney and a couple of beautiful roosters in the front garden. The roosters hold their heads high, as if they were guardians of a great treasure.
Dona Marcelina, the matriarch of the family, often sits on the small terrace, manually shaking and sorting the coffee to separate the good beans from the defective ones. The family’s efforts to ensure the best quality coffee are substantial and every person plays a part.
The Cuchimba family has their efforts validated through our good friends at the Santa Barbara Estate, who serve it in their flagship specialty café, Pergamino, in Medellin. Specifically in Cauca, they have launched a new pilot project with the Pillimue family in San Antonio. In order to offer up market access more widely in the region and to put more control in the hands of local people, the family (who has long supplied coffee to Pergamino from their various family member farms) has opened a small warehouse and cupping lab with funding from Pergamino. They act as logistics and sourcing partners and are able to provide quality assessment services for nearly 150 families in the area, which is far more impactful than any other regional association in the area, reaching not just San Antonio, but now also the towns of Belen, La Palmera, Aguablanca, Pedregal, Palmichal, San Jose and Santa Teresa. Most importantly, the Pillimue/Pergamino partnership enables more families than ever before to access higher prices by placing coffee on the specialty market.
During the harvest season, Pergamino has committed to monthly visits to the group in order to cup and advise on quality. All coffee produced by the group that cups at 85+ points will be purchased, and higher scoring lots may be held aside as microlots to be marketed under the farmer/family’s own name.
The region’s violent past, with a heavy presence of FARC guerrillas, had historically prevented the FNC (Colombia’s excellent national coffee board) and specialty-focused exporters from establishing a presence in the region. As violence has diminished, it has enabled the growers in the region to seek increased access to markets for quality, not only taking advantage of the region’s wonderful coffee-growing conditions but also the economic resource that nearby tourist destinations bring (for instance, the World Heritage Site “Parque Nacional Arqueológico de Tierradentro”).
Tasting Notes - Blackberry, Yogurt, Jammy
Producer: Familia Cuchimba
Farm: Finca El Cedro
Verity: Caturra, San Bernardo and Colombia
Altitude: 2050 MASL
Proc. Method - 36 hours fermentation, fully washed & dried on parabolic beds